For 30 years, Mike Teshkoyan and his brother, Mark, have been leading the Caldwell softball program to incredible success.
Caldwell is the winningest program in the Essex County Tournament, with 10 championships, in 11 finals appearances. It has also won multiple state sectional titles and conference championships, as well as a Group championship.
Along the way, Mike Teshkoyan (who is officially the head coach) and Mark are closing in on 640 wins, clearly the most in Essex County history. The Teshkoyans also rank among the all-time leaders for softball coaches in New Jersey.
As for 2016, Caldwell finished 15-10 and was second in the Super Essex Conference’s (SEC) Liberty Division.
“We were a team in transition this year after graduating eight seniors that helped us win two Liberty Division titles over the last three years,” said Mike. “That senior group was led by a bunch of four-year starters like Gianna Genello, who helped Rowan (University) advance to the Division III College World Series (this season). Gianna also set a school record at Caldwell, with 213 career hits.
Caldwell coaches Mike Teshkoyan (right) and Mark Teshkoyan (left) are flanked by seniors (l to r) Shannon Johnson, Shauna Dietz and Nina Ricci, following the Chiefs last game of the season, a 4-2 win over Newark Academy. (Click on pictures for larger image).
“Cayla Lombardi was our anchor on the mound for four years, as well.”
Losing players of that caliber is never easy, but Teshkoyan noted the ’16 Chiefs met the challenge.
“With so many question marks, we didn’t really know what to expect this year especially with young pitching,” the coach said. “Our two senior captains really helped uphold our standards, by providing the girls all they have learned in the program, in addition to having exceptional years in the field.”
Shannon Johnson, the shortstop, will play at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., this fall. Johnson finished her career with 110 hits in her career and batted .463 with 22 RBI this spring.
Nina Ricci, Caldwell’s second baseman, batted .325 with 24 runs scored.
“Together, Shannon and Nina made a formidable double play combination, turning five over the course of the year,” said Teshkoyan. “They allowed this team to rebuild, while still having the success that we are accustomed to.”
As to the future, Teshkoyan is very optimistic.
“With seven starters returning, we are poised for a big year in the newly realigned Liberty Division in 2017,” the coach said. “Our true backbone of the team was (junior) catcher Christina Guarino, a two-time first team, All-SEC player. She was the only returning starter in the same position this year, and handled our two young pitchers with wisdom and patience. She batted .372 with 25 RBI, sits at 98 career hits, and has committed to Rowan as well (for the fall of 2017).”
Caldwell’s outfield is in good shape, with all three starters back next season.
Anna Rowland, the centerfielder, batted .453 as the leadoff batter, scoring 34 times. Left fielder Alyssa Mermini batted.375 with 18 RBI. Taylor Bryant, who played right field, was also a key contributor.
Sophomore pitcher Carlie Corrigan was 9-3 in SEC play. She helped hand Newark Academy its only loss in the Liberty Division in 2016, as Caldwell won its season finale, 4-2.
“That game will give us some carry over momentum going into next year,” said Teshkoyan. “Carlie also batted .315 with 15 RBI and was 14-10 on the mound (overall).
Taylor Stafford, the first baseman, was also a key asset, as the sophomore batted .377 with 34 RBI.
The freshman class contributed, with four players stepping into varsity roles. Jaci Murphy played third base, Bridget Nicholas pitched and Ashleigh Bryant and Devon Stafford helped on the base paths.
“We will have a nice blend of seniors and underclassmen and return 12 varsity members to next year’s squad,” said Teshkoyan.